Gambhir gave me confidence when I was a beginner: Ashwin

Chennai, Jun 21 (PTI) Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on Friday hailed Gautam Gambhir, the frontrunner to succeed Rahul Dravid as India head coach, as a “fighter” and motivator par excellence, who gave him confidence in the nascent stages of his Test career.

Ashwin recalled his talks with Gambhir during his first full series for India against New Zealand in 2012.

“I was playing my first full series. I only carried drinks during the first two years before the World Cup (in 2011). He gave me a lot of confidence at the beginning (of his career). I was not used to someone beyond my state (Tamil Nadu) giving me that sort of confidence,” said Ashwin while launching his book — I Have the Streets – A Kutti Cricket Story — here.

The 37-year-old said the former Indian opener was often misunderstood because of his candid nature.

“Gautam Gambhir is a very misunderstood person. It’s all about perception. He is a fighter.

“The biggest issue with many of us is that we give hero status to someone in our mind and forget about everyone else. This is a sport, not a movie narrative.

“There are no heroes and villains. Gambhir is a competitor. His desire and hunger to win is unbelievable. I have massive respect (for him),” he added.

‘Dhoni didn’t know someone like me existed’ ================================= Ashwin’s breakthrough in the Indian Premier League came in 2010 when he played for Chennai Super Kings under the legendary MS Dhoni.

Ashwin glanced back at an incident in 2008 Challenger Trophy that helped him grab the attention of Dhoni.

“It’s an evolving relationship. MS didn’t even know someone like me existed in 2008,” he remembered.

“And because of that, I made it my life’s goal — from 2009, it was to get the wicket of MS Dhoni. When a person has a goal like this, he will go crazy when an opportunity to achieve it pops up.” Ashwin went back to that final match held in Nagpur.

“We were playing the Challenger Trophy, and I bowled an unbelievable spell. MS would struggle through that spell in Nagpur. Once, when he tried to play, the ball went through his gates.

“I got him out in the final. From then on, I think he saw somebody with skill, and the relationship matured.” Ashwin said once a player earned the trust of Dhoni, then he would get ample chances to prove himself.

“One of MS’ usual qualities is that, if he decides this horse (a player) is not ready to race, he will not use you. He needs to know you’re a horse.

“But, once he knows you’re a horse, only when you feel like giving up, he will look past you. That is MS Dhoni; he believes in you,” he added.

‘Kirsten, an outstanding human being’ ============================ Ashwin had a limited role to play in India’s epochal 2011 World Cup victory. But the TN man recollected how then head coach Gary Kirsten and the whole team did not make him feel unwanted.

“After winning (the WC), Gary called me over and said we have not done justice to your talent. You have waited two years, but make no mistake, take it from me — you will achieve far greater things, and I am upset that I will not be a part of it,” he reflected.

“So, Gary actually resigned (as head coach) with me first before announcing it outside (laughs). It was surprising for me because in all these two years, Gary actually spoke, maybe, 100 lines to me. Gary was a man of few words and an outstanding human being,” he added.

In fact, Ashwin was used sparingly even in the run-up to that World Cup. He offered a reason for that.

“One of the reasons why MS did not play me leading up to the World Cup (2011) was the novelty factor. But eventually, I figured out that they would play me.

“I was about to play the match against Pakistan (2nd semifinal in Mohali). But, they decided to opt for an extra fast bowler because there was heavy dew the previous day there,” he concluded.

Source: PTI News


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